Friday, August 05, 2005

HAZARDS OF TV NEWS


One of the hazards of television is that you hear the best quotes when the camera is not rolling. Let me give you one small example. I was waiting for the grand-daddy of blogging, Kiruba, at the reception area in his office. He strode in and we introduced ourselves. The first thing he told me when he heard my name was, "The advantage of having an unusual name is that you can get it as your own domain name." Spoken like a true-blogger, i thought. But where was my camera? On my cameramans lap, with the lens cap on, as he sat there on a sofa, in the lobby of the offices of Sify.

Another hazard is that unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you lose your best visuals. A mob stoning police vehicles makes for gripping television. But its a spontaneous act again. So the visuals you'll probably have to settle for are shots of shards of glass lying around on the road, smashed wind-screens and people standing around. Which is why, a film-maker recently remarked, "watching television news is like watching faces in my window." And shes right! Just a lot of mid-shots with people, people, people, people, people. The television is on mute all the time in front of me in the newsroom at work. Very, very, very rarely does what im seeing make me sit up and take notice.

29 comments:

Deep said...

Funny you would write about this. Just last night I saw this series accessing preparedness of metros for the kind of showers that did Bombay in. The only package I saw completely was on Chennai, and all I thought through out the 90 seconds was how dull the visuals were.

Not really a fault of the channel, most of us would run the story with city shots, maybe a couple of cutaways of the municipality, and visuals of storm-water drain. But I also remember a 90 second package on BBC on civic amenities. And believe you me, they had dug out black and white archival footage of drains being made in London. If TV is about telling a story, that is how it should be.

Then again, with the kind of scarce resources and short notices we work with, it is unfair to expect such standards in a hurry... Leads to the usual bigger picture of how the Indian TV news industry has grown so big in only a decade and how possibly only once there is a shakeout will any kind of quality content emerge...

Slice Of Life said...

hi
The growing news channels have made
"news " a business.... such things bound to happen...
more than the news the interviews on newstories take away the spirit of the real news reporting...today i was watching in starnws about karishma's divorce....what a postmortem..of a problem bw a husband and wife..

prem said...

Hi

Came via Kiruba's blog. Surprised to find candid views abt news/current affairs from a journalist. I mean isn't news reporting supposed to be unbiased and without prejudice. Aren't risking your career here by revealing ur prejudice? Wouldn't credibility of your story take a beating. Like u say "luv to give away venkiah naidu" ... i agree too... but this coming from a journalist... hmmm....

i sure like the candidness.. but take care.. ;-)

ToeKnee said...

How I wish the human eye was wired to a CCTV all the time so that interesting visuals could be played back for posterity.

Vicky said...

Hey alaphia ,

Am one of your students when you were an English Faculty with TIME in feb 2003 . Then i've been watching you in NDTV reporting . Got to your blog thru ho else Kiruba :)

Alaphia said...

Hi Deep,

Yeah, i dont think we can whip ourselves too much, because ive often thought about how i can tell the story better, visually, and i realise many times that it would be difficult to improve it given the constraints. But i know what you mean about the BBC stories. They're just rich and they dont have that ugly fat scroll at the bottom of the screen!

Alaphia said...

HI Chennaipages,

Its pathetic, isnt it? But its such a chicken and egg thing. Is this what viewers really want to see? Evidently they do... Star News TRPs are going up.

Alaphia said...

Hi Prem,

Journalists definitely have opinions - they just dont voice them in the media they work for. Sometimes when i do a story, i have a gut feel about whos telling the truth and whos lying... But i cant talk about gut feel on air... it wouldnt be 'reporting'. Thats why im a blogger. Im glad you like the candidness. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Alaphia,

By any chance are you a michaelite? I had a senior by the same name who gave voice to Dorothy's character in the play "Wizard of OZ" we had in our school for Parent's Day. I haven't heard of another Alaphia since then! I still remember her voice or if indeed it is you, I remember your voice. By the way, I am danusha, but I am sure you don't know me. Except for the play, I wouldn't have known you either! - ie assuming it's you!

Alaphia said...

Hi Danusha,

Yes! I am a Michaelite. And yes, i did lend voice to Dorothy, proud owner of ToTo. So how many years my junior were you? What do you do now? Where are you? This is great... finding people like this.
Cheers

Truman said...

I read most of your posts. Liked your rational view. Have blogrolled you :)

uma said...

Very, very, very rarely does what im seeing make me sit up and take notice.


so true. love your blog, btw. keep on doing what you're doing,

uma

Calvin said...

Neat blog you've got here. Liked all your posts. Keep blogging :)

Anonymous said...

Hey this is cool!! micheliates rock!!! I guess this is another big plus of having a unique name! I wouldn't have linked it all together otherwise!!! I am surprised I still remembered the whole thing, I can't seem to recall my collegemates names!! I was in 8th grade when we had the play. Remember Joyce Perera and Anita charles?? Am in the US, working!

Revanta said...

Holy Cow! I guess I should have known that Alaphia is not a common name. The Wizard of Oz comment brought it all back. I was sitting beside you giving a few voices myself. :)
I think its about time I used my strange name to get another blog for myself too.

Gangadhar said...

Hi csame here through Kiruba's blog...
Oh..I missed the programin NDTV..
Could youpl tellme....there is a chance for repetition?

Alaphia said...

RB!!
What do you mean, you were sitting next to me, giving a few voices yourself??!! There were three of us giving voices. A thin, bony girl with a husky voice, whose name i cant remember. Then there was a Bengali guy and then there was me! Are you that guy???!!! And im sorry, but i cant help but continue to gasp at how amazing this is!

Alaphia said...

Hi Uma,

Thanks a lot! Im keen to read your writing.

Alaphia said...

Hi Vicky,

Nice to hear from you. Were you in the GRE or the CAT classes?

Alaphia said...

Hi Calvin,

Thanks a lot. Glad you liked my blog.

Alaphia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alaphia said...

Hi Gangadhar,
I have written to HQ to find out if and when it will air again. Will let you know.

Ankur said...

the trick is to leave the camera on at all times..then maybe just delete tapes at end of day or something,,

Hey if u can create an RSS link for ur blog that wud be great as then i wont have to reach out to ur blog again and again checing for updates,,,whenever u will update i will know thru the RSS feed :-D

Revanta said...

Quite amazing how small this world really is. Yes, this is Revanta, the Bengali guy that gave voices for the tin-man, the scarecrow, the lion et al. at your service. Was the whole wizard of Oz thing really, what, 10-12 years ago? ... and I remember her name being Anandhi.

Anonymous said...

I think the girl who played Dorothy was Preethi and the tin-man was Avinash, wasn't he the Head-Boy or something? It sounds weird to say "Head-Boy/Head-Girl"...!!!

Alaphia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alaphia said...

Hey RB,
Wow... nice to meet you again! Yeah the wizard of OZ thing was about a decade ago. Yes! The girls name was Anandhi!

So you do still have connections wiht Chennai? I think we should talk on e-mail. I didnt find your ID on your blog though.

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Keep up the good work!

Thanks!.

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